Oscar, Paulinho & how the Premier League stars performed in Brazil - Croatia clash

Goal takes a look at the performances of the representatives from England's top-flight as the hosts kick-off the tournament with an unconvincing victory in Sao Paulo
So after months of anticipation the World Cup is finally here and underway. Brazil didn't have it all their own way against Croatia on Thursday evening but, ultimately, they got the job done and avoided the potentially nightmare scenario of an opening day upset.

Neymar, the Selecao's boy wonder and main hope for success on home soil, lived up to the billing with a couple of goals but what of the Premier League stars on show in Sao Paulo? Goal takes at look at how the likes of Oscar and Nikica Jelavic performed on one of the biggest nights on the football calendar...


Neymar will undoubtedly grab all the headlines on Friday but Chelsea playmaker Oscar was Brazil's best performer on the night. The 22-year-old, operating in an unfamiliar role on the right flank, caused all sorts of problems for Croatia left-back Sime Vrsaljko over the 90 minutes and was a constant threat with the ball at his feet.

And on the day that the Blues moved to bring in more midfield competition at Stamford Bridge with the signing of Cesc Fabregas, Oscar gave Jose Mourinho a timely reminder of his talents.

Having first fed Neymar for the equaliser, the midfielder, who had been swinging in numerous dangerous crosses from wide areas, was again heavily involved as his low cross found Fred - who in turn hit the deck to allow Neymar to score his second from the spot.

And Oscar capped a memorable display in the final moments, racing forward after Ramires stole possession in the middle of the field and driving at Dejan Lovren and Vedran Corluka before toe-poking the ball past Stipe Pletikosa to seal the three points for Brazil.


It was a frustrating night for Hull City striker Nikica Jelavic, with the former Everton man often isolated up front as the Croatian midfield attempted to contain the waves of Brazil attacks.

After inadvertaently diverting the ball into Marcelo's path for the opening goal of the tournament, a chance he should have really gobbled up himself, the 28-year-old perhaps could have done better with a headed effort soon after but could only plant the ball straight into Julio Cesar's grasp.

From then on Jelavic was virtually non-existent and he was brought off after 77 minutes in what could prove his one and only opportunity to feature at the World Cup with Mario Mandzukic set to return against Cameroon after serving a suspension.


One of few Brazil players with a job to do defensively as well as going forward, Paulinho was caught out early on in the first half as Croatia successfully counter-attacked down the left to force the opening goal.

He grew into the match, though, and as well as proving a reliable anchor midfield partner for Luiz Gustavo, he was not shy in getting himself involved further up the pitch, stinging Pletikosa's palms with a driven shot at one stage in the first half.

The Tottenham man was taken off just after the hour-mark for Hernanes as Luiz Felipe Scolari looked to freshen things up in midfield but he should again take his place in the starting XI against Mexico after a solid, if unspectacular, opening performance at the World Cup.


Lovren was initially given an easy time of it as Fred struggled to make an impact in the first half but will undoubtedly be disappointed that he failed to get out to Neymar quicker as the Barcelona forward squirmed a shot through his legs and into the bottom corner to level up proceedings.

The Southampton defender can, however, feel more than a little aggrieved after conceding a penalty in the second period - Fred collapsing in a heap on the floor after the slightest of brushes from the former Lyon man.

Sadly for Lovren, he was again caught out as both he and central defensive partner Corluka, perhaps tellingly both on yellow cards, failed to deal with Oscar as he burst forward and tucked the ball past Pletikosa for 3-1.